North Carolina Museum of Art
The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), which opened to the public in 1956, houses the first major museum collection in the country to be formed by State legislation and funding. Since the initial 1947 appropriation that established its collection, the Museum has continued to be a model of enlightened public policy. Today, it encompasses a collection that spans more than 5,000 years of history, a variety of celebrated exhibitions and public programs, an amphitheater for outdoor performances, and the nation’s largest art museum park—164 acres of trails and parkland containing major works of art. One of the leading art museums in the American South, the NCMA has recently completed of a transformative expansion and revitalization placing it in the front ranks of museums nationwide.
Since its initial acquisition of 139 works of European and American art, made in 1947 with a $1 million appropriation of State funds, the North Carolina Museum of Art collection has grown to include major holdings in European painting from the Renaissance to the 19th century (enhanced in 1960 by an extraordinary gift from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation of 75 works dating primarily from the Italian Renaissance and Baroque periods), Egyptian funerary art, sculpture and vase painting from ancient Greece and Rome, American art of the 18th through 20th centuries, and international contemporary art. Other strengths include African, ancient American, pre-Columbian, and Oceanic art, and Jewish ceremonial objects, with one of only two permanent displays of Jewish art in an American art museum.
At present, the Museum is actively building its collection, which, along with the expansion, transforms the visitor experience. Recent acquisitions include a gift from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation of 29 works by August Rodin, making the NCMA the leading repository of this artist’s work in the southeastern United States. A gift of mid- to late-20th-century art from the collection of Jim and Mary Patton includes work by Jackie Ferrara, Adolph Gottlieb, Ellsworth Kelly, Per Kirkeby, David Park, and Sean Scully, among others. Other new works of both historical and contemporary art include examples by El Anatsui, Roxy Paine, Jaume Plensa, and Ursula von Rydingsvard.
The 164-acre Museum Park consists of open areas with streams, woodlands, trails, and monumental works of art. Artists are actively involved in the restoration of the Park’s landscape and the integration of artworks into its natural systems. The Park is thus a laboratory for experimentation with environmental art and restoration and a place in which the public can experience the relationship between art and nature. The Museum’s amphitheater, the site of outdoor films and musical performances, is located in the Park.
In addition to displaying selections from its permanent collection, the Museum organizes and hosts a variety of special exhibitions. Recent examples have included Julie Mehretu: City Sitings, with nine monumental paintings by this well-known contemporary artist; The Big Picture, dedicated to contemporary large-scale photography; Monet in Normand; and Art in the Age of Rubens and Rembrandt, among many others.
The Museum is known for its dynamic roster of public programs. Offerings for adults include lectures and symposia, films, concerts, and more, while children’s programming includes art workshops, performances, summer camps, and thematic family festivals.
Photo: Courtesy of Flickr user Eric Orozco https://flic.kr/p/8MC57x
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